After watching yet another newscast regarding the horrendous shooting of innocent child victims in Connecticut, I turned to my wife and asked what her thoughts and feeling were about the incident. Of course, she was horrified at the senselessness of the act and although no valid reason for it was cited, it still smacked of out-and-out evil. Her thoughts, though, were, I felt, very interesting. When I asked her what our respective parents, who are deceased, would think about all of this violence, she simply said that they would not be able to comprehend it; that it was beyond their ability to wrap their minds around since the era in which they lived either never had such behavior or they were not exposed to much unsophisticated media information. In addition, even we, my wife and I, and others in our age group, are having an extremely difficult time understanding and embracing the reality of such occurrences as being a more commonplace series of events.
However, she added, our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren will become accustomed to such acts as is born out in the various drills that most, if not all, of the schools in the Country practice in the event of such violent acts reoccurring in their areas. In effect, she was stating that violence is a fact of life and we need to accept it as now being an integral part of our American society’s fabric. Personally, I find this very difficult to accept.
Where is all of this coming from? What is the source of the violence and the mentality that promotes and practices it? We’re not just talking about the taking of the lives of innocent children but there are, I’m told, hundreds of cells in the United States promoting the overthrow of the Government as well as those groups promoting the elimination of non-whites in society by the use of armed force. Will a ban on guns or breaking into the websites in order to target these groups and shut them down stop the carnage? Frankly, I doubt it because there is an underlying element which drives the whole “machine” of violence. Thusfar, all of our attempts at curbing this type of behavior have been after-the-fact attempts.
There is nothing more anger producing than the perception or reality of not having any choices. In a democratic society choices are the right of every individual in their search for happiness. As choices become limited or removed, anger begins to take its course in what can become a process that leads to violence. As anger festers within individuals, they begin looking for outlets to relieve the pressure. Thankfully, most who experience such anger look to peaceful ways of expression. Others, however, may look to that form of expression which they believe will assuage their anger; this form might usually be that of taking it out on those whom they feel represent the cause of their plight.
Speculation might indicate that the Connecticut incident came about as a result of a warped and mentally ill mind experiencing a sense of jealousy that his life was not as happy as those children whom he killed or his blaming his mother whom he also killed, for not providing that source of satisfaction. But that is only speculation and whether true or not, keep in mind that reality is always within the mind of the beholder. In other words, the anger and turn toward violence was seen as being the only course of action that could be taken to avenge his plight. Let me demonstrate the process as I view it:
Irritation –> Anger –> Repression –> Frustration –> Pressure –> Rage –>
Negative Action Stimulation –> The Need for Release –> Violence
Hindsight is always 20/20. Comments of the many people, adults and peers alike, who knew the shooter, would indicate that there were definite and specific signs of his psychological illness and social ineptitude. There are hundreds, thousands, of people who portray similar characteristics. Should we round them up and contain them as a preventive method to further violence. First of all that would be an absurd solution and secondly it would not be permitted in our form of democracy.
I believe that there are proactive steps that can be placed in our society that are aimed at prevention vs. cleaning up after-the-fact. Here are some steps that I believe will be of practical help to prevent future violent situations. I am not proposing these in a theoretical sense. As a practitioner, many years ago in a small mental health agency, I formed the basis for the suggestions that follow into an action-oriented program.
- As a society, we need to recognize the importance and effects of mental and emotional issues on every human from birth to death. There is still a prejudicial attitude toward mental health that prevails in our Country which allows people, including our politicians, to hide their heads in the sand resulting in the minimization of funding and resources to diagnose and treat these types of illnesses.
- We need to start teaching teachers about anger, other emotions, and the meaningful ways in which to deal with and express them so that they can then teach children in their classrooms starting at about the 3rd or 4th grade levels. Educators stress the importance of the thinking processes but there is very little time and effort spent on helping children deal with their feelings. Most administrators tend to view this role as being the agencies within a given community. Early education is seen as an essential step in prevention.
- In community clusters, there needs to be a combined attempt to identify and treat or deal with potential violence. Representatives from the police, education, mental health and political auspices need to meet on a regular monthly basis in order to discuss their perspectives on what is actually going on in their community in order to bring the necessary resources to bear in dealing with potential problems.
- Until something is done to curb the anger, we are never going to curb the violence. Just the realization that we need to employ “lock down” training for young children in order to teach them how to deal with violence after the fact is a clear indication that we are experiencing a greater degree of choicelessness in every aspect of our lives.
- We need to begin to “reach out” to those people who are clearly disturbed instead of avoiding them like the plague. If sufficient mental health resources are in place, it is much more possible for them to get the help they need. Schools especially need to begin to identify and reach these students in order to refer them to the proper facilities for the help that they need. Indeed, ideally it would be optimal if those resources were available within the school system itself.
- We also need to examine what and how we can allow for more choices in our society rather than having them make us feel bound up and angry in doing so, we may not immediately curb the violence but we can make a dent in the source of that violence: ANGER!
(9 January 2013)
Both as a consultant and author, Charles Bonasera’s story-telling have motivated people to change patterns and resolve problems in their lives. All of his books contain valuable, practical lessons that people can easily apply to bettering and managing their lifestyles. He has also written a myriad of articles which can be found on his website at www.charlesmbonasera.com.